Review: 'Nobody' (2021) Dir. Ilya Naishuller
Updated: Jun 25, 2021
The story of a nobody becoming a somebody has been done before in the action genre, but with a solid cast and crew, this nobody is nothing but entertaining for all the right reasons...
Family man Hutch (Odenkirk) is stuck in a rut; his life is full of routine and less than fruitful relationships with wife Rebecca (Nielsen) and teenage son Blake (Munroe). Only his young daughter, Sammy (Paisley Cadorath), seems to show any respect for him.
When his home is broken into and his daughter's favourite bracelet is stolen, Hutch lets out the inner demons to get it back and doesn't let anybody stand in his way. But when a group of happy-go-lucky thugs come into contact with Hutch, a dangerous chain of events begins.
Russian mobster Yulian Kuznetsov (Serebryakov) has been hurt by Hutch, and he wants revenge. To protect his family, Hutch taps into his violent past with the help of half-brother Harry (RZA) and Dad David (Lloyd) to take the Russian and his men down...
"I'm just a soul whose intentions are good. Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood." A battered, bloodied and bruised Bob Odenkirk's Hutch introduces us to his "nobody" in a police station interrogation room, feeding a cat some tuna whilst in police custody. Over the course of the next few seconds, we see how ordinary, mundane and routine this man's life is. Working to live, or living to work. Taking few sly comments and putdowns from successful wife Connie Nielson. Resented by his teenage son Gage Munroe and missing the bin collection. Just an ordinary nobody.
There is a glimmer of a darker man behind this mild-mannered neighbourhood father, husband and worker. After failing to ward off intruders to his home, Hutch is obviously holding himself back, but why? The mundane world we are introduced to zaps the life and zest from Hutch, and it's clear to see why. There is nothing out of the ordinary about what we see or hear. It's routine, bleak and comforting. Yet Odenkirk's quiet, restrained Hutch has something behind his eyes that we are drip-fed over the course of the opening act. He can identify firearms in seconds, analyse body height and stature in the blink of an eye and knows how not to be seen.
But when we see him watching old episodes of 'Rawhide' with father Christopher Lloyd in a care home, taking stock of life, this isn't a typical Liam Neeson "everyday nobody bang bang bang" action story. There's something else to this that doesn't lose the sense of the nobody to the title.
This is a story tinged with darkness, bitterness and the quest for redemption when Hutch sees how he has failed to care for his family. He's a human first, reluctant hitman second.
Odenkirk plays our nobody perfectly throughout. Never shifting gear and losing the sense of his character, a former clean-up operative for the CIA who did the dirty work when nothing else would suffice. He's got the look and style of a man who wants to be somebody to his family but doesn't know how; doesn't know how to life with his past and be a better person in the present. Even when he's building bridges with his wife and children, he never loses a sense of insecurity or fragility. But, away from this, he is more than capable of being a new action lead using brains over evident brawn. You can't help but like the poor man and want him to succeed on this path.
Half an hour in we are treated to the first show of Hutch's desire for bare-knuckled justice and taking the fight to the scum of the streets. He channels the brutal vengeance of Paul Kersey in Death Wish mixed with the professionalism of John Wick in John Wick and the humanity of Bryan Mill in Taken, not acting out of blind rage but out of a need to do the right thing when trouble comes calling, and with a history of active service behind him. This of course brings trouble in the guise of Russian crime lord that Hutch has inadvertently irked, and so finds himself having to tap into his special set of skills and be a somebody again.
Russian director Ilya Naishuller may present us with a glorious 90min action film that does the genre proud, but it's the little touches that help make this intelligent too. The use of musical cues and original songs to channel dark humour over stylish violence, the focus on Hutch as a family man over the course of the film rather than just the first ten minutes, and the action sequences themselves. They are shot in a way where we can actually see what's going on without the furious shaky-cam so often used in these films.
In that sense, we can see Odenkirk dishing out the pain and see the results, thanks to practical stunts using props, sets, vehicles and performers to make this look as real as possible. The fight sequences have a sense of classic Jackie Chan to them; using everyday objects and environments to hand in fending off the bad guys.
With an excellent supporting cast including the aforementioned Nielson, RZA, Aleksei Serebryakov and screen vet Michael Ironside, it's Lloyd who is a joy to see again on screen as Hutch's father David. He may be 82 years old confined to a care home, but when the call comes, he knows just how to handle himself and help his son with bloody glee.
'Nobody' comes out of nowhere with a well-worn template, but with the right amount of talent, humour and action to present something fresh and technically tight without overstaying it's welcome.
'Nobody' is a co-production between Perfect World Pictures, 87North Productions, Eighty Two Films and Odenkirk Provissiero Entertainment